Thursday, March 26, 2009

Iggy Pop Gets Literate En France

Iggy Pop, the Godfather of Punk, takes on the language of romance and gets “dangerously near jazz” on his new album, Préliminaires, to be released in the U.S. on EMI Music’s Astralwerks label on June 2. Produced by Hal Cragin, Préliminaires, which means “foreplay” in French, is score music inspired by Michel Houellebecq’s 2005 novel The Possibility of an Island.

Iggy will present the new project during an online interactive press conference hosted at, which will take place live from Paris, France today, Thursday March 26, 2009 at 11:00am CET (6:00am EDT/3:00 a.m. PST). He will speak about his inspirations, the link to French culture, and controversial author Houellebecq. Those subscribing to the webcast will also have the opportunity to ask questions and hear tracks from the album.

The book “is about death, sex, the end of the human race, and some other pretty funny stuff,” says Iggy in a video statement explaining his motivations. “I read the book with intense pleasure when it came out and, in my mind, I created music that would have been the music that I would hear in my soul when I read it.”

Later on Iggy was approached to write several songs for a film documentary about Houellebecq’s life and his attempt to direct a film of his own book. “The project grew and grew and I found the emotions from my reading transforming themselves into music,” Iggy explains. “I wrote less and less for the movie and started writing an alternative score to the novel.”

On Préliminaires, which eventually took on a life of its own beyond the film project, Iggy sings the standard “Les Feuilles Mortes (Autumn Leaves),” originally covered by the likes of Yves Montand and Edith Piaf, while the New Orleans-influenced “King of the Dogs”—with a jazz arrangement featuring trumpet, trombone and clarinet—tells the story of a dog named Fox who explains “how cool it is to be a dog, and how much it beats human life.” There’s also a version of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s bossa nova standard “How Insensitive (Insensatez).”

“At one point, I just got sick of listening to idiot thugs with guitars banging out crappy music. I’ve started listening to a lot of New Orleans-era, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton type of jazz. And I’ve always loved quieter ballads as well,” says Iggy. “There are some guitars on the album. Only one song is vaguely raucous; three have jazz-like instrumentation.”

The album was recorded in Woodstock and in Miami, where Iggy first sketched out the songs in his small cabin on the river on his old wooden guitar.

“Like Daniel, the book’s protagonist, I too have grown weary of a career as an entertainer and I wish for a new life,” he says. “I, too, have spent desolate hours in the future world of the Spanish Coast. The concluding chapters about Daniel and his small faithful dog wandering doomed through a ruined earth to the desiccated sea were the most empathetic and believable predictions of the future that I’ve encountered.”

The visuals for the album package are being created by French/Iranian graphic novelist and award-winning film director Marjane Satrapi, who first met Iggy when she asked him to do the voice for one of the characters in her Oscar-nominated animated feature Persepolis in 2007.

The track listing for Préliminaires is as follows:

1. Les Feuilles Mortes
2. I Want To Go To The Beach
3. King Of The Dogs
4. Je Sais Que Tu Sais
5. Spanish Coast
6. Nice To Be Dead
7. How Insensitive
8. Party Time
9. He's Dead/She's Alive
10. A Machine For Loving
11. She's A Business
12. Les Feuilles Mortes (Marc's Theme)